TRANSLINK on Thursday released its assessment of near-term opportunities for municipal projects aimed at improving bus travel times around Metro Vancouver while also improving the overall flow of traffic during the pandemic. TransLink has identified more than 25 bus priority opportunities that could be implemented quickly with little impact on surrounding areas.
Staff have worked with municipalities to ensure the identified opportunities have considered local businesses and, are in many cases, win-wins for both transit and local retail areas. “We appreciate the challenges facing local business during the pandemic which is why these recommended changes do not remove parking in local retail districts,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “Many of these changes would improve the travel experience for other road users, pedestrians and cyclists. Several proposed changes will create more space for patios and parking, supporting economic recovery and respond to public health requirements.”
Proposed measures include:
* Bus stop balancing – removing or consolidating bus stops that are too closely spaced together to improve bus travel times, increasing sidewalk space and freeing up curb space for more parking.
* Bus bulbs – extending curbs or constructing boarding islands to reduce the need for buses to merge in and out of traffic, increasing sidewalk space and freeing up curb space for more parking.
* Tactical changes – making small changes to reduce delay for buses and other vehicles at intersections or temporary changes.
* Bus priority lanes focused on locations outside of retail precincts and with at least three travel lanes.
About half of the opportunities identified by TransLink are in the City of Vancouver, while the other half are along key bus corridors in communities such as North Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, West Vancouver, New Westminster and Richmond.
Bus customers travelling through proposed areas could save as much as 10 minutes of travel time per round trip. These opportunities are estimated to cost about $2 million in funding already set aside for bus priority initiatives. If all are implemented, they could generate an estimated $2 million per year in operating savings for the region, recuperating costs within one year.
Our region has a unique opportunity now to rethink how road space is used and find ways to make our roads work better for everyone, according to New Westminster Mayor and Mayors’ Council Chair Jonathan Coté. “It is possible road congestion will become worse than it was before the pandemic as people choose single occupancy vehicles due to anxiety over COVID-19. Changing the region’s roads to improve the reliability of buses makes transit a more attractive option for people trying to get around during and after the pandemic,” he said.
Municipalities have authority over their own roadways and must provide approval before any changes can be implemented. TransLink will assist municipalities by providing technical analysis, confirm funding and, support engagement activities with stakeholders and transit customers.